Understanding Airway Remodeling in Asthma

Airway remodeling, which refers to changes to the structure of the airways, occurs in asthma and is linked to reduced lung function and a greater use of asthma medications. Collagen, in particular, is an important component of the airway structure that accumulates more in asthmatic airways compared to the airways of healthy individuals.

Using state-of-the-art microscopy techniques, Dr. Tillie Hackett and her research team at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation set out to image the collagen and elastin fibers that make up the airway in order to better understand airway remodeling. What the team discovered was that collagen fibers are more disorganized and fragmented in the airway walls of asthmatic individuals compared to individuals without asthma. This not only provides a novel drug target for asthma treatment, but also supports the use of these advanced imaging tools to monitor airway remodeling throughout disease progression and during treatment. These results were recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and featured on Extracellular Matrix News.

This research was made possible by the purchase of a new non-linear optimal microscope, the first super-resolution microscope of its kind in Canada, through funds from the Canadian Foundation of Innovation and St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.